Spice Pears and Cardiograms
Scatter-brain post, all over the map:
Yesterday, Suttonhoo and I had a frustratingly 140-charactered conversation about ads and social software over on Twitter. I am (as is obvious from the thread she quotes in the next link) a bit of an idiot about these things, so she went off and wrote this
The feeling I'm left with, and which Suttonhoo puts in admirably specific terms, is that the models for predicting user engagement for sites are - in dumb terms - too quantitative and not qualititative enough. The difference between Flickr and Facebook are enormous in terms of what I experience. I have an intense engagement with Flickr and it feels like an important part of my personal and cultural landscape, while Facebook is a shiny new toy which I don't use very seriously. I'll probably still be on Facebook in a year. But in two years? Three years? The fact that I'm not sure tells me a lot. Flickr is a site I engage with seriously and deeply, and it is a site whose interface, layout and geography were obviously designed for me, not as delivery vehicles for ads, like Facebook.
Going to Facebook, as I say in the comments of Suttonhoo's post, is sort of like going to McDonald's. You're in an environment which is hyperefficient for what it is trying to accomplish: get your money & fast. Massive advertisement & human-unfriendly environment. The overwhelming feeling is that it was not entirely built for you, and that is uncomfortable. Flickr was. It's like your local greengrocer. He's still making money off you, but he wants to make sure you get the right piece of fruit, and he likes chatting you up when you walk in the store. Not just - or even primarily - because he knows that will make you come back, but also because he simply wants to.
But still, I'm on Facebook & Flickr an equal number of minutes per day (if for no other reason than that Facebook's interface is sluggish and requires lots of clicks for simple operations).
So anyway, after that lovely post, Suttonhoo went off and got sick. At least she's got a good beat, unlike, say, the Spice Girls. Go tell her to get well.
A skeptic and an enthusiast write about academic blogs. Both of them have interesting and valid points, but though I'm obviously an enthusiast I find myself nodding more vigorously at the skeptic's points. He accurately diagnoses some of the problems that must be fixed about academic blogging.
I have made spice pears. They are cooling in a glass jar on the window sill in my new kitchen. Did I mention the new kitchen? We have a kitchen. It's new. We cook things in it. For instance,
Bits of ginger
Peel the pears - they should not be too ripe. Make a sugary spice suryp by boiling sugar in water. The water should just cover the pears, and have quite a lot of sugar in it. Bring to a boil with the spices above and whichever extra ones you feel like. Fresh mint works (but maybe remove the cinnamon?), as does red pepper if you're feeling sporty
Simmer until tender. Let cool for hours and hours because sugar in sufficient quantities somehow increases tenfold the specific heat capacity of water. Pour onto a glass jar and let it sit in your fridge for a month if you want. They can keep for a good long while, unlike Spice Girls which only keep for a couple of albums. Alternatively, you can serve them the same day if that's what you want - what you really, really want - (though I advise you to simmer them for at least three hours then. If you store them, the spices
I've started reading Orwell's "As I Please"-columns again. They're nice because I often don't have time to read more than a page or two, so shortish essays like these are good. I like the scattershot effect of them. Their utility and simplicity, and despite often being blatantly wrong, they show an interesting mind at work, and really there's nothing better than that.
Oh, and I also create life for fun: I've got a sourdough starter (not quite yet) puttering away on the new kitchen countertop. Anyone have any tips on preventing them from crusting over when left in the open air, like the recipe says?